Every year the MLB season goes through its offseason, pretty much like every other sport. The NBA Offseason is about what Super Teams will be formed, the NFL offseason tends to swirl around the new blood entering the league. The MLB offseason takes a while to get going. One of my favorite baseball terms is “Hot Stove.” You’ll hear a lot of baseball fans talking about Hot Stove season and how it’s starting to heat up.
The term “Hot Stove” comes from the idea of the “Hot Stove League,” the offseason gathering of fans around a hot stove during the winter, getting warm and talking baseball. It doesn’t get any more Americana than that, y’all. Just sitting around a hot stove in the dead of winter, talking baseball. Doesn’t that sound lovely?
Less lovely is how much action has taken place since the Winter Meetings. Sure, we had a lot of action surrounding the Miami Marlins and New York Yankees, and even the Los Angeles Angels and Philadelphia Phillies have gotten in on the fun. But for the most part, there’s still so much yet to be settled in the 45 days before the season begins. So let’s dive right in.
Landing Spot: Chicago White Sox
It’s time for Avila to switch sides in Chicago and return to the South Side. With the wealth of pitching talent the White Sox have coursing through their farm system, The White Sox are going to need a veteran backstop behind the plate. That’s where Avila comes in. A veteran catcher with all of these young arms is a necessity.
Honestly, the most surprising signing of this offseason (besides Jay Bruce… I don’t want to talk about it) was Chris Iannetta and Colorado. Why? Because I liked Lucroy in the Mile High City. He seemed like a good fit. But then again he always seems like a good fit. So now the question becomes, where does he go? The guy who was the best offensive catcher in the game and now seems to be adrift after two lackluster seasons? Where does he go?
Landing Spot: Arizona Diamondbacks
Switch spots with Iannetta. The Diamondbacks were going all in on Machado earlier this year, and when a team is going in on rental layers before the season has started, you know they mean business. Losing Iannetta leaves the Diamondbacks with Jeff Mathis, who is notoriously awful at the plate. Behind the plate? The guy’s a stud. Seriously. Check out FanGraphs piece on him. It’s amazing.
So when I see the Diamondbacks going in on an offensive weapon for the short term, I see them looking to upgrade behind the plate. That’s where Lucroy comes in.
Miguel Montero really talked his way out of being on a winning team huh? Not a great look for a guy going into free agency.
Landing Spot: Seattle Mariners
Minor League Deal. Back up to Zunino. He’ll fill the spot Chooch left behind.
I love Lucas Duda. I always have and I always will. However, I have always been frustrated by Lucas Duda. There are times when you see the potential that this kid has, just week-after-week of serious slugging smart at-bats, only to be followed by week-after-week or called strikeouts on curveballs.
Lucas Duda is a real life Pedro Cerrano from Major League. He’s got power, but he can’t hit curves. The book on Duda is so clearly written that when he played in Queens you could see Mets fans going to get a beer when a pitcher got two strikes on him. Does that make him a backup? A DH?
It makes him a cheap option. That’s something a team can get behind. A team like Seattle could use an everyday first baseman who can move aside for Dan Vogelbach once he gets his numbers up. Duda is a great stop-gap for a team looking for a first baseman who is in the market to prove himself.
Landing Spot: St. Louis Cardinals
Plan and simple: Duda fits a need in the Cardinals lineup. Consider this the reverse Keith Hernandez.
MLB Trade Rumors reported last week that Hosmer has already received a few multi-year offers, highlighting the ones from the Padres and Royals, with the Cardinals and Red Sox still in the mix. Hosmer is in the driver’s seat here. It just depends on where he wants to play. The Cardinals offer one of the best baseball towns in the country but would be a slight to his Royals fans, whose hearts he’s won the entirety of his career. The Red Sox will no doubt offer a chunk of change, but they bring a lot more pressure than playing in Kansas City.
The interesting conversation is about the Padres and Royals. Let’s start in Kansas City. The Royals have a hometown advantage, but shouldn’t get a hometown discount. While the Royals obviously want to keep their star first basemen, they’re bound to lose half of their infield anyway. If there’s a time to jump ship, it’s now.
San Diego has reportedly offered Hosmer a massive 7-year deal worth upwards of $135 million, the number Scott Boras, his agent, was hoping to get near. However, it would mean that Hosmer would have to make the conscious choice to join a rebuilding team in an insanely difficult division. However, this is something he’s done before in Kansas City, so maybe he’s the secret to bringing a ring to PetCo Park.
Landing Spot: Kansas City Royals
Eric Hosmer has a choice to make, and luckily for him, the two paths have already been laid out and well-worn by others before him. For a guy as beloved as he is in Kansas City, Hosmer has a lot more to lose in leaving, especially this close to their World Series title. Visions of Pablo Sandoval in a Red Sox jersey dance around my head when I imagine Hosmer leaving. He’s the face of the Royals, y’all. There’s no way he walks.
Minor League Deal. With that strikeout rate? Big time minor league deal.
Landing Spot: Colorado Rockies
With this guy’s power, he’s worth a shot off the bench in the Mile High City.
There was a time I was crossing my fingers at a bus stop, hoping Neil Waller would accept a qualifying offer from the Mets.
It’s amazing what happens in a year, huh?
After a 2017 mired by injury and general malaise, Neil Walker is a Free Agent in a big contract year. Not the place he would have hoped he’d be.
Landing Spot: Detroit Tigers
Neil Walker might seem like a lesser Ian Kinsler, and that’s because he kinda is. By bringing Walker to the Motor City, the Tigers bring in a cheap option at Second, allowing Iglesias a solid partner up the middle, and a solid bat in the lineup.
The other thing to note is that while the Tigers are going through a rebuild, they only have 3 middle infielders in their Top 30 Prospect, with the highest ranked player arriving in the Bigs in 2020 at the earliest. So the Tigers could take a chance at Neil Walker for two years, and hopefully shift Isaac Paredes of Dawel Lugo to Second.
This is an interesting situation. At this point in his career, you would expect Chase Utley to retire. Instead, the soon-to-be 39-year-old second baseman will be looking to sign with a team for another summer in the sun in 2018. Where does a veteran second baseman, who is well past his prime and is just barely producing at the plate, find himself in 2018?
Landing Spot: Los Angeles Dodgers
I mean, he’s not gonna be making a ton of money, but there’s something great about having him on the Dodgers bench. Whether it’s his veteran knowledge of the game or his ability to bridge the gap between vets and younger guys, he’s worth the minimum contract. Especially if Logan Forsythe continues to falter like he did in 2017.
There was a time when Howie Kendrick was the most dangerous bat on the Dodgers. We all need to remember that. We also need to remember that Kendrick hit .315 in 2017. The guy can rake.
Landing Spot: Washington Nationals
An Infield/Outfield utility player who can swing a mean bat? That’s Washington’s wet dream.
If I’m Todd Frazier, I’m looking to become more of a centerpiece in a lineup, like he was in Cincy. His move to New York was a smart call, but hitting Frazier in the back half of the order didn’t make much sense. But then again, in 2017 hitting him anywhere didn’t make a lot of sense. Aside from the 10 games, he hit 6th, Frazier never batted over .238 in any position. Then again, he left Chicago batting .207 and only hit .221 with the Yankees, so perhaps another change of scenery will do him good.
Landing Spot: New York Mets
WITH THE METS SIGNING OF JAY BRUCE IT WOULD APPEAR THAT THEY ARE GOING TO GO ALL IN AND SIGN TODD FRAZIER. WHY IS THIS IN ALL CAPS? BECAUSE I AM TRYING TO DRILL IT INTO MY HEAD THAT JAY BRUCE IS A MET AN LORENZO CAIN IS NOT AND I NEED THEM TO GET A BAT AND A SOLID PLAYER AND I THOUGHT THEY HAD THOSE IN LORENZO CAIN, BUT I GUESS NOT AND I JUST DON’T KNOW ANYMORE. I PUT ALL MY EGGS IN THE LORENZO CAIN BASKET AND NOW I’M NOT QUITE READY TO PUT WHAT IS LEFT OF MY EGGS IN THE FRAZIER BASKET. WHAT DO I DO? HELP.
Moose blasted 38 homers in 2017. In the field of power hitting infield free agents, he’s the top of the class in 2018. Seriously. The Moose is loose and that’s music to the ears of teams looking for some pop from the hot corner.
Landing Spot: San Diego Padres
If the Padres are will to pay for a talent like Hosmer, I’m sure they’d take Moustakas as consolation. Seriously. If they’re gonna get a Royal, it’ll be Moose. They could even sign Moose first, and then use him as bait to get Hosmer. You guys. THAT’S THEIR PLAN.
But in all seriousness, trapping Moose disrupts less of their set lineup than snagging Hosmer does. Especially since Solarte has been shipped north of the border, Spangenberg is now free to play second, leaving Carlos Asuaje to move to short. This move actually solidifies their lineup in a big way. Pirela who saw some time at third can move to left completing the outfield and it leaves Wil Myers at first. Now all they need is for Hunter Renfroe to come back from wherever he was in 2017 and play like he did in 2016.
The Padres could be nasty, you guys.
What happened to Trevor Plouffe? Seriously. The former first-round pick never fully blossomed. I mean, this kid was platinum rated, and then never showed up in the majors. After struggling to hit above .260, the Minnesota Twins let him go in favor of Miguel Sano. Now, it’s pretty easy to see why the Twins would opt for Sano at the hot corner… everyone except Trevor Plouffe, who was notably furious with Minnesota after they outrighted him.
The one word used to describe Plouffe’s offensive output, that I find both correct and hysterical, is “useful.” Seriously. MLBTradeRumors once called Plouffe’s offensive output from 2012 to 2016, as “useful. Also, Plouffe hit .198 in 2017, so he’s gonna be DIRT CHEAP.
Landing Spot: Miami Marlins
It sounds insane for the Marlins to be signing anyone, but considering how rough Plouffe’s 2017 was, there’s a very good chance that he’s gonna take whatever’s given to him. That’s gonna be a small, one-year deal with Miami. If they move Justin Bour, it makes this deal even more ideal for the fish.
Eduardo Nuñez has completed the 3/4 Cespedes, by playing for 3 teams in the last 2 years (a Full Cespedes is 4 teams in 2 years, just FYI.) Why has he bounced around so much? He’s a great trade piece at the deadline. Seriously, imagine a guy who can fill two spots on the field and has lineup versatility. You just imagined Eduard Nuñez.
Landing Spot: Kansas City Royals
The Royals are poised to lose a bunch of solid players from their lineup, which means they gotta bring in something to fill those gaps. Nuñez, as he has done in the past, can fill so many holes for the Royals. Especially with Alex Gordon on the decline, the outfield eligibility of Nuñez makes him a solid fit.
It feels like Alcides Escobar’s 2015 Season was eons ago, but in reality, the only thing that has drastically changed is his stolen bases. Never really being known for his power, Escobar was a menace on the basepaths, but in 2017 he stole only 4 bases. What made Escobar valuable was his ability to get on for guys in Moustakas, Cain, and Hosmer. So what good is he to a Royals team that is going to lose at least 2 of those 3? That’s the question, and a clean split may be the solution.
Landing Spot: Arizona Diamondbacks
Hear me out. The D-Backs made an interesting call shipping Jean Segura away last offseason, especially considering how well Segura did in Seattle. Ketel Marte was supposed to be the future up the middle for Arizona, but 2017 only proved how unprepared he was for the majors. Sending him back down to the Pacific Coast League for another year or two will do wonders for him in the future, but for now, he’s gotta put in the work.
That’s where Escobar comes in. Veteran guy. Sure glove up the middle. WHEELS. In a park known for triples galore, it’ll be nice to have speed at the bottom of the lineup, or at the top, were the D-Backs ready to move A.J. Pollock and David Peralta back into the meat of their order.
I go back and forth on this one a lot. For me, Reyes was a constant reminder of how abysmal the 2017 Mets were. Watching his first at-bats of the season was like watching paint dry while someone kicks you in the nuts and insults your mother.
Okay, so maybe it wasn’t that rough, but it was bad baseball. The issue with Reyes is quite literally, how do you teach an old dog new tricks? The answer is you don’t, but you need that old dog to teach the young dog his tricks. Reyes brings veteran knowledge to a team, and that’s very valuable.
The guy can play three-quarters of the infield and can run. Reyes should be your first bat off the bench, your pinch runner, and your starter when your regulars need a day off. You’ll be able to get him at a fraction of the price he’s worth. There are too many reasons to sign him than there are to not.
Landing Spot: New York Mets
Amed Rosario is the most valuable prospect on the Mets and he should be started at shortstop on Opening Day and he should be leading off by the June, that’s how this ideally goes. Who has walked that path before? José Reyes. Who was once the face of the New York Mets? José Reyes.